Looks Like University Of Illinois - Antwain Walker

Jun 08, 2017

Ah yes, the camp offer. It's a yearly June tradition. June is when you hold camps, which means you get to see players up close. Some of them pop off the page and you offer on the spot.

Last year, the camp guys were Marc Mondesir and Tony Adams. Mondesir impressed at a camp, Lovie offered on the spot. Tony Adams impressed at the St. Louis camp, Lovie offered on the spot. Mondesir accepted almost immediately, Adams waited, got a Mizzou offer after camping with them as well, and then committed to Illinois.

Last Saturday (the 3rd), Illinois held a camp at Memorial Stadium. The coaches picked a tall (for cornerbacks) cornerback as the MVP of the camp... and then followed up quickly with an offer. See the player, want the player, offer the player, land the player.

Camp offers are one of the reasons I always preach "wait until July 1 to look at any rankings". Not that I expect Walker to shoot up in the rankings, but Camp Season has lots of breakout players. Some kid will run a 4.4 at some camp and suddenly a dozen offers come pouring in. And it's the opportunity for the coach to see players in person - to evaluate them live, not on film, and some kids will go from no big offers to seven big offers in a month (and then shoot up the rankings).

So July 1 is when I first look at the rankings (especially the state rankings). They'll still change beyond July 1 (last July 1 Kendrick Green was a 2-star offensive lineman who had just gotten his first P5 offer during a Minnesota camp, and he ended up a four-star on several rankings), but July 1 is my marker. Sometimes a kid will even plummet in the rankings after camp season - coaches (and scouts) get an up-close look and find that the film wasn't telling the truth.

One more thing before discussing Walker - I'd say that camp offers tend to be a little more successful than film offers. As in, camp offers players often out-perform their rankings at a higher rate. The coaches know what they want, and when they see it during a drill they specifically set up to look for one specific thing, it tells them they've found an athlete they can work with. So I always give a little more credence to the camp offer kids. (Except for Mondesir - I still don't see it. But that's another topic.)

Walker is one of those guys who was going to do the camp circuit in June but got the Illinois offer and jumped at it. Would he have gotten Iowa and Minnesota offers soon? Hard to say. It would make me feel better (it's always "better" to land a player who has multiple Big Ten offers), but now we'll never know.

When I watch Walker on film, my first thought is Jaylen Dunlap. I love Jaylen Dunlap so I should probably say "poor man's Jaylen Dunlap". Dunlap looked like this in high school. When you first see him, you think "he's too tall for cornerback". Cornerbacks have to be able to change directions on a dime, and taller guys struggle with that. But guys like Dunlap (and, hopefully, Walker) can get away with it because of their wiry frame and plus-burst.

That's not a guarantee that Walker will be that guy. There's probably a reason he has no other major conference offers. I can list out 25 Illini players in the past who, in the end, checked out on the size/speed scale but couldn't ever get over the hump and become a Big Ten football player. An offer like this is often looking down the road - "we can develop that kid into a player by 2020". You toss them all in the machine and see which ones come out on the other side.

As far as Tom Cruises go, I think I have to keep them low. I like the size (Lovie loves tall cornerbacks), and I like the speed, but on film, he has a lot to learn about being a defensive back. So while I expect someone like Tony Adams to make an immediate impact (I went to see him live last September and came away wildly impressed), I'm not sure I see Walker on the same level. So while Adams got three Tom Cruises, I can only give Walker two.

Antwain Walker - Two Tom Cruises


Jacob on June 09 @ 02:45 AM CDT

I know you mentioned Mondesir. He is the test for me. I don't expect much next year. If he is playing in 2018 and a well functioning starter in 2019, I will trust Lovie completely from here on out. And I already trust him a lot

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